Saturday, July 26, 2014

Shark Dive in Oahu

Major bucket list item completed! I can't believe I did it! I didn't think I would ever really get the chance to go on a shark dive, much less in Hawaii, in warm, beautiful water, and to get my husband to go with me at that. But I did, and it was so much better than I could have expected! Of course, I was apprehensive. I was a bit concerned that those big sharks would decide to ram into the cage in hopes of shaking one of us out between the bars which, by the way, are quite widely spaced. 

I was also concerned that after paying for a tour, I would only see a couple of sharks...and then I worried that the water would be freezing... and I hate being cold. The North Shore of Oahu was the perfect place to do my first dive because not only did we see a ton of sharks, but the water was WARM!!! 

I chose North Shore Shark Adventures as our tour companu after reading some Trip Advisor forums. The staff were fun, punctual, informative, and had a GoPro movie service for an additional fee. The footage on this post is from their movie, which I then turned into still shots/short clips and edited via iMovie. 

We reserved an 8am slot and headed out. It was a clear and already hot day, so the boat ride out to the cages felt great, though the water was rough and made for some queasy stomachs.

 I don't know what other tour companies do, but the NSSA company does not chum for sharks. Chumming is when you throw fish parts and blood into the water to attract sharks. It works, but makes for gross swimming water and attracts more sharks into the bays.  This company takes you out to where the crab catchers keep their nets, a couple miles into the open sea. Every morning, when the crabbers go out to collect their catch, they throw back all the smaller crabs per regulation. The sharks have learned that if they just hang out by these nets, they eat good every morning! Oahu makes an ideal spot to do a dive; not only are there a ton of sharks just hanging out on any given day, but the sharks have recently been fed and have no interest in human consumption! 

Like I said, the water was rough, so getting into the cage itself was precarious and didn't do anything to set my mind at ease. I was the first one in, so I had to manuever around to the back of the cage. In doing so, my leg shot out between the bars as one big wave knocked the cage around. Since I had yet to stick my face into the water and see the proximity of the sharks, this didn't cause me much concern. However, a moment later when I decided to take my first look and saw a shark within an arms distance from me, I was counting my lucky stars! 

 Once I stuck my head under the water, I forgot all about the rough sea!  I was mesmerized by the world below, by these awesome creatures. They didn't seem concerned about us at all. 

Trying to keep balanced- Me on the far left

Most of the sharks here were Galapagos sharks. The ranged from 8-10 feet long and many of them were pregnant (we were told, I certainly couldn't tell). 


The sharks often swam within touching distance


Hi Mom! 

There were so many sharks! 

Everything was going fine!  We had gotten use to being so close to the sharks and were feeling at ease with our situation...until the Barracuda showed up. According to our guide, this guy was close to 5ft long, the biggest he had ever seen!  Though he was long, he wasn't very wide and could have easily fit through the bars of the cage had he wanted to. 

This isn't a great angle to show how big he was, but it was the best shot I could get from the footage. Barracudas are known for being voracious and can get up to 27mph when attacking. Thank goodness this guy was in a good mood!

What an awesome experience! So glad we did this, it was a great way to start our 2 week trip!  I love pushing the limits of my comfort zone!  

Next on the bucket list: fly boarding! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Independence Day 2014

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July holiday. Our lives have been pretty chaotic since with family, weddings, and travel, but I had to get this post up. Not only did we have a great time with our friends and family, but we made one pretty amazing breakfast that you will want to try the next time you feel like getting diabetes. It certainly wasn't healthy, but if you love cinnamon rolls like I do, you will make exceptions to your healthy diet now and again. 

Jemma's Dress Gap Baby
Jemma's Bow Headbands
Chambray Shirt
Burnt Red Skirt
Michael Kors Bag Similar

We were so excited to have Jed's parents, and Tanya & Nate come into town on Thursday evening. I love any kind of holiday because it means our house is filled with people, food, and constant activity!  It's so invigorating!

Auntie Tanya got some slobbery kisses

One of the best things about living in sunny California is the dependable weather!  To me, the perfect 4th of July involves being surrounded by close friends and family, BBQing, and playing in the great outdoors!  In this family, the holidays aren't just limited to one day, but the whole weekend, which means tons of big and delicious meals. Nothing better than getting some exercise before all the over indulging begins!

Well...some of us got sleepy during the hike

And what would the 4th be without the great old american past in the park!  I love traditions! 

Watching daddy play baseball

After, we headed into Marin for BBQ and fireworks!
Recognize our shirts? Made these yesterday!  See link

Jemma's little outfit on Sunday was so sweet! I love monogram bloomers, though this wasn't my favorite font (my bad), they still are simply adorable.

Custom Bloomers here

My precious long legged little girl
Jemma's little dress

Ok, not sure how Recipe Girl was able to make such beautiful pancakes, because this was deffinitly a "fail" as far as aesthetics goes, but let me tell you something... it most certainly was not a fail as far as taste goes!  If you are even considering making these, DO IT!  They were delicious and tasted just like cinnamon rolls!  We added fruit and sausage on the side.

Sarah in the kitchen

Apparently making swirls is harder than it looks

Not so pretty, but oh so tasty

The strawberries make it seem healthy

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Recipe from Recipe Girl

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, just melted (not boiling)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2-ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

Prepare the cinnamon swirl filling: In a medium sized bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Scoop the filling into a zip baggie and set it aside (see *Tips below).
Prepare the glaze: In a small pan, heat the butter over low heat until just melted. Turn off the heat and whisk in the cream cheese until it is smooth. Sift the powdered sugar into the pan, stir in vanilla extract. Set the pan aside.
Prepare the pancake batter: In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the milk, egg and oil, until the batter is moistened (a few small lumps are fine).
Cook the pancakes: Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-heat and spray with nonstick spray. Use an ice cream scoop (or 1/3 cup measuring cup) to add the batter to the pan. Use the bottom of the scoop or cup to spread the batter into a circle (about 4-inches in diameter). Reduce the heat to medium low. Snip the corner of your baggie of cinnamon filling and squeeze the filling into the open corner. When your pancake begins to form bubbles, add the filling. Starting at the center of the pancake, squeeze the filling on top of the pancake batter in a swirl. Cook the pancake 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake and it's golden brown on the bottom. Slide a thin, wide metal spatula underneath the pancake and gently but quickly flip it over. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the other side is golden as well. When you flip the pancake onto a plate, you will see that the cinnamon filling has created a crater-swirl of cinnamon. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and repeat with the remaining pancake batter and cinnamon filling. If you want to make the pancakes look pretty after they are cooked, go back and fill in the swirls with more of the cinnamon filling.
Re-warm the glaze briefly, if needed. Serve pancakes topped with a drizzle of glaze and some fresh fruit.

Tips from Recipe Girl:

*Quick and easy tip: Use a boxed pancake mix as the base for this recipe.
*Tips for the cinnamon filling: Before swirling, open up the baggie again and give it a good stir to re-incorporate any butter that may have separated from the sugar. You want the mixture to thicken a bit- it's best when it's similar to the squeezing texture of a tube of toothpaste, which will happen if you leave it at room temperature for several minutes. Don't try to use the filling for the pancake swirl unless it has thickened as it will be too runny to make a solid swirl.
*Keep the heat low or your pancakes might cook up too quickly. Don't flip them until you see those bubbles starting to pop on top. Flip them with a wide spatula so you can grasp the whole thing without batter and filling dripping all over the place!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

4th of July Shirts

Happy 4th of July Weekend!

It's our first 4th of July as a family of 3, plus the pup, and I couldn't be more excited! Jed's parents, my baby sister, Tanya, and her fiancĂ© Nate, are coming into town tomorrow tonight, and I have so much to get done. Meal planning, groceries and a bunch of cleaning. Hours of work are needed, and my windows of time are pretty short these days. My little Jemma is so active, and wants nothing more than for me to help her walk everywhere. 

I can't help it though, all I can think about is getting cute pictures of our first 4th of July together. And, as every girl knows, you gotta have a cute outfit for the day!  So, instead of cleaning, baking or shopping, I started painting! I am sure my company will understand!

Please try to see past the terrible backdrop and permeant cup ring. This is the heavily lacquered top of the wet bar/craft station. Before you ask, no... I did not pick it out. It came with the house and we haven't gotten that far on our remodel yet. I can't wait!

Here is what you will need: paint, fabric medium, brushes of various sizes (I used two sizes, a large and a smallish one with long bristles, pictured below), a few mixing cups (I just used red solo cups, because I want to party), a cup of water, a drying rag for your brushes (paper towel is fine too), a pencil and tape. Mix your fabric medium per the instructions on the back, but it is usually a 2:1 paint ratio. 

I decided to paint a flag, big surprise! 

I figured out pretty quick that the shirt wasn't going to stay in place when I ran the brush over it. To help, I taped down the shirt in each corner, it kind of worked. At this point I also should have checked to see if the paint was bleeding through, I didn't, and it was. This could have been prevented by sliding a piece of paper or scrap material between the layers of the shirt.

Since the red stripes on my shirt needed to dry before I could continue, I started on baby J's shirt. She is also getting a flag. Original ideas, I know.

I drew it first with a pencil, then followed the outline with the small brush. Filling in the center at the end for the desired effect.

As I was going for a more rugged/shabby chic look, this is how I left it. Then, using my small, long bristled brush, I painted messy wavy stripes. 

Easy peasy!

After my red stripes had mostly dried (I am not a patient person), I started on the blue.

First drawing my edges with the side of my large paint brush to get a messy line. The more imperfect, the better! 

Leaving lots of different layers of blue and even some white patches for a more worn look.

Using my small brush, I placed white paint dots where I wanted my stars to go.

This project was super easy. Took less than an hour to prep and paint. I will let the shirts sit for 24-48 hours, then I will heat set them so they can be washed in the future. 

How to Heat Set Cotton Material

First, turn off the steam setting on your iron. If you don't have a switch, then just remove all the water from the iron. Next, turn your iron on a medium to high setting, and iron the painted area, moving the iron around constantly. I always worry about the paint melting onto my iron. When I heat set, I place a scrap piece of fabric between on the paint and just iron overtop.